Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Runway Sampler

Nothing for tonight, really: had a fairly productive day, finishing up the inks on a page written and pencilled by my friend Dave (again, the creator of Hairbat).

Of course, I probably started inking it in 1996, so it was a major leap to get back into that style and mindset. It's odd, because I haven't really produced a huge volume of comic work in the last twelve years, but in the interim, I've completely altered my approach to inking, now favoring brush almost exclusively, whereas I used to ink mostly with the ever-popular Hunt 102 dip pen. Since the page was half-inked when I discovered it lurking in my archives a little while ago, I decided just to go ahead and finish it up with the 102s and see if I could find my zone with them.

Thankfully, I'd already inked all the figures and some of the backgrounds (as well as lettered the thing) when I put it aside over a decade ago, so it was really just a matter of finishing the backgrounds, doing a little touch up here and there, laying in the mechanical tones and inking the panel borders. I always love the moment when the borders go down, because it's a little scary how much that seemingly small and unimportant step improves the look of a page. What I had left to do mostly amounted to some crosshatching, which is one of those great brain-dead exercises.

Not to knock inking - I love to ink and I think it's a real craft and I worship and adore the ranks of the great comic book inkers - but what I really love about it is that it's the act of drawing that requires the least amount of input from my brain. Presumably, by the time you get to the inking stage, most, if not all of the drawing problems have been solved and you can finally relax and just enjoy the physical act of making marks on paper.

Really, it's the only major act of drawing that can happen while watching TV. Like a vacation on bristol board.

At some point, when the rest of the site goes live, I'll include a small gallery of my pencil work that's been inked by other people, which will let you see how much the inks and style of the inker can bring to a page. It's pretty fascinating. On the page I inked of Dave's, it's pretty clear that he gave me permission to go ahead and go crazy slick in my inking style, rather than conforming to his ink style. The resulting page is certainly unique - I'll post it Saturday night. It's a shame I don't have a copy of the original pencils, but maybe Dave does. That would also make for a pretty interesting exhibit.

It's a good warm-up, too: for the story that Kalliope and I are working on, she's going to be doing all the inking, and if I'm going to give her guidelines, I need to start codifying my approach to inking. It's always been the thing that I was best at, and like many things that we come to naturally, I of course have no real way to explain how it's done.

Perhaps that's why the best ink that Higgins makes is called Black Magic. It almost is like a magic trick, when you're in the zone. And, no: it isn't just tracing, already...


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